A quality education is the engine of a society that supports prosperity. It is the basis of a developed group of citizens. That’s why it is imperative to guarantee an inclusive and egalitarian education for everyone. Banco Santander accepted this commitment some years ago, becoming by this way the private enterprise in the world that supports higher education the most.

Currently, more than 265 million boys and girls are not educated, despite 22% being of school age. Moreover, 617 million young people around the world lack basic reading or arithmetic skills and a minimum level of literacy. These data from the UN put on the table a serious problem that, far from being resolved, seems to have a long way to go. We must bear in mind that access to education is a fundamental, universal and inalienable human right.

Education is the basis of improving the life of everyone. With an education trained citizens will be capable of discerning, deciding and, in short, of leading the way towards a fairer society, regardless the place of birth, race or social condition. So, the access to a free, equal and quality education should become a priority for governments, organizations, public and private enterprises and citizens.

Quality education, a priority for the Goals of Sustainable Development

The close relationship between education and poverty is well known. Or rather, between the complicated access to education and poverty. In this way, the most disadvantaged social groups usually are those that have received less education and therefore those that have more difficulties accessing education and its benefits.

For this reason and because it concerns a fundamental right, the UN works on obtaining equal opportunities to access a quality education. To do so, it has posted this issue of priority at the fourth position of the Goals of the Sustainable Development launched by the UN, after achieving the Goals of Development of the Millennium. These are 17 measures formulated to eradicate poverty, promote the prosperity and the well-being of everyone, protect the environment and face climate change at a worldwide level.

Committed to achieving these goals, Banco Santander has defined 10 responsible banking targets up until 2025, including granting 200,000 scholarships, internships and entrepreneurship programs during the period of 2019-2021.

Support for education, raison d’être of Banco Santander

Banco Santander is one of the enterprises that best understands education as an engine of prosperity of a society. That’s why, several years ago, it decided to place the support of higher education as one of its strategic axes. However, it is even more committed in this field because Banco Santander supports childhood education with programs in several countries, especially in Latin America, in order to guarantee equal opportunities for every child and to support sustainable development.

According to the report The Fortune 500 Change the World, the entity presided over by Ana Botín is the private enterprise in the world that supports higher education the most, with an investment of more than 1,700 million of euros since 2002, and the creation of a network of 1,235 universities and other academic institutions in 33 countries to support students, researchers and entrepreneurs

The efforts of the company are increasingly growing. During the last year, Banco Santander has granted 73,741 scholarships and university aids and has supported 20,000 university entrepreneurs through the program Santander X, which is aimed to become the biggest ecosystem of university entrepreneurship around the world.

All this aid is channeled through Santander Universidades, the area of the entity that devotes its efforts to the support of higher education. Such department includes Universia, a digital platform of non-financial services for the university ecosystem that offers labor and employment advisory services; and Fundación Universia, which boosts the social and labor integration of university students with disabilities through scholarships, practices and employment in collaborative and inclusive circles. In 2018 alone, 603 university people with disabilities were given grants, and another 153 people with disabilities were supported in the labor market access.

Becas de Movilidad Iberoamérica (Mobility Grants Iberoamerica), Grants Europa, Santander Incluye (Santander Includes),Santander Talent Generation, Grants Salario-ítaca (Wage-Ítaca), Award UD-Banco Santander of Investigation, Grants Georgetown… there are a multitude of grants and programs of Banco Santander to boost the academic and professional development of the youngest talent, on the basis of the inclusion, equal opportunities and sustainability.

José Rivera Contreras was awarded a Mobility Grant Iberoamérica, thanks to which he travelled from Chile (his home country) to Zaragoza to study Environmental Law in the University of Zaragoza; Belén Humanes has been recently recruited by Banco Santander after taking part in the program Santander Incluye, which focuses on the inclusion of students with disabilities. Meanwhile, David Díaz and Ana María Barbalata are two young talented individuals to benefit from Santander Talent Generation.

They are only a small sample of the thousands of young people whose lives have been changed thanks to Banco Santander and its support of higher education. Probably, some of them wouldn’t have been able to show their immense talent without these aids that ensure that everyone has their place. They are the best example to show that if you want, you can, and that supporting access to a quality education is an effort that should involve everyone.

Banco Santander, along with more than 125 banks, signs the Responsible Banking Principlesto contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, demonstrating its commitment to a sustainable and inclusive future.